By Sarah Vega for The Island Eye News
When Tom Proctor and his wife, Sheryl, moved back to Sullivan’s Island six years ago, it didn’t take him long to start volunteering at East Cooper Meals on Wheels. His mom, Neeley Katherine Asman Proctor, benefited from meal deliveries for a number of years before Tom and Sheryl moved back to the island. The daily deliveries allowed her to continue living independently in her own home on Sullivan’s Island until her health necessitated a move to assisted living. She appreciated the food, but she really loved the visits with the volunteers each day. Tom wanted to do something to pay that generosity forward.
Miss Kitty, as she was affectionately known to most in the community, passed away at age 96 on July 24. She, her husband and her son moved to Sullivan’s Island in the early 1950s, and, thanks to one of her customers at C&S National Bank, they were able to rent a place to live for just $35 a month.
Miss Kitty became an integral part of the community in ways big and small. She was a charter member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church on Isle of Palms and, along with a friend, baked 100 dozen cookies each year for the annual tree lighting in December.
After Hurricane Hugo, she operated a soup kitchen at the church to serve all the workers helping to clean up the island.
She was even recognized as honorary chief of the Sullivan’s Island Fire & Rescue Department because of her longtime culinary support – homemade coleslaw – for the organization’s annual fish fry. She was always ready to help wherever and whenever she was needed.
While Tom started off volunteering for Meals on Wheels on his own, Sheryl decided to join him and also developed a strong connection with the homebound recipients on their route.
“They’re all favorites and they’re all like family,” Sheryl shared.
Tom and Sheryl have continued their dedication to volunteering during the pandemic, and they recognize how challenging the situation is for the folks on their route.
To limit the potential for exposure, Meals on Wheels is currently delivering a supply of meals twice a week, with no-contact protocols in place.
“It’s not the same. We still get to see people from a distance and briefly, but we miss the longer visits. You know, for some of them, we might be the only people they see all day,” Tom said.
The Proctors continue to be inspired by the hardworking team at Meals on Wheels – both staff and volunteers – and the ways in which they impact so many in the community. They’ve even referred two friends to start receiving meals.
One friend from church can no longer stand at the stove to cook a meal, while another was exposed to COVID-19 and needed meals temporarily. They had to convince both of them that they qualified, because Meals on Wheels serves people of all ages and incomes, not just those in poverty.
“The truth is, there are so many scenarios where someone might become homebound. It could be your wife or your neighbor who can’t get to the grocery store. You might be so busy being a full-time caregiver to your loved one that you don’t have the time or energy to cook. Meals on Wheels is here to help in every one of those situations,” said Tom.
In lieu of flowers, Tom and Sheryl Proctor have asked that any gifts in memory of Miss Kitty be made to East Cooper Meals on Wheels or St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. If you or someone you know could benefit from homedelivered meals, please call 843881-9350 or visit ecmow.org.